NM legal organization warns of crisis centers preying on people seeking abortions

Anti-abortion fronts that might look like a place to turn collect data and distribute dangerous ‘reversal’ pills, according to Southwest Women’s Law Center

By: - July 7, 2022 5:05 am

Women’s Pregnancy Options in Albuquerque is listed as a Crisis Pregnancy Center intended to convince women to not get abortions. Three doors down is a Planned Parenthood clinic. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

It’s a nice storefront sandwiched between an insurance office and massage parlor. Two double-sided signs on the sidewalk in front of the building off San Mateo in southeast Albuquerque advertise free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. The website has resources for social services, housing and adoption care. 

One thing these places won’t offer: safe and reliable access to abortion care.

That’s actually three doors down at the Planned Parenthood Clinic located on the same street.

This facility, known as a crisis pregnancy center, picked its location for a reason, and such centers are dangerous for anyone trying to access abortion care in New Mexico, according to the Southwest Women’s Law Center.

People in-state and from other areas must be on alert for these organizations that offer misleading medical care, SWLC says, and they can be outright deceptive in their practices — while obtaining personal medical history and information on patients.

At a New Mexico abortion clinic, calls flood in from Texas and wait time for appointments grows

In 2021, SWLC found 31 places that are listed as crisis pregnancy centers in New Mexico. That number has gone down slightly, and now 27 of these centers are operating in the state.

Researchers from the University of Georgia designed a crowdsourced map that shows CPCs across the country. Their map shows a total of 24 centers active in the state, which does not account for the updated numbers kept by SWLC, showing a possible issue of reporting and understanding about how many of these facilities actually exist. 

They offer services “that are overstated, deceptive and dangerous,” according to a report the group published, and they relay false and biased medical claims.

On top of that, crisis pregnancy centers are part of organizations that run anti-abortion campaigns across the world and can share information with states that are prosecuting people for accessing abortion. 

“Whenever they collect your data, they’re able to share it with states like Texas. And so somebody who inadvertently contacts them, that CPC finds out that you got an abortion, then tips off Texas,” said Jessica Serrano, a lawyer with the Southwest Women’s Law Center. “I think we need to do more to warn people.”

That data can include name, birthday, address, ethnicity and race, marital status, education, income, substance use, medications, medical history, STI history, pregnancy history and ultrasound pictures.

A study published by the U.S. Library of Medicine states “CPC services do not align with national quality family planning recommendations that define a core set of services to prevent missed opportunities for comprehensive prevention and treatment.” That research from 2020 affirms what the SWLC reports, that crisis pregnancy centers “frequently provide biased, misleading and inaccurate health information to support their objectives.”

Gov: NM will not cooperate with other states’ legal actions against people seeking abortions

Serrano’s group put together a list of the crisis pregnancy centers it has identified that operate in New Mexico.

The group worked with an alliance that also covers eight other states — Alaska, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington — and found out that crisis pregnancy centers outnumber actual abortion care providers in those locations. 

The report outlines how these facilities do not provide someone access to an actual abortion provider, and that most will often misrepresent dangers of abortion care. 

Nearly 32% of CPCs “claimed abortion increased infertility, pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders, breast cancer, or mental health disorders,” the report states.

Many CPC sites claimed that people who have had abortions suffer “post-abortion stress syndrome” and “abortion as trauma,” which the research shows are “constructs that have been debunked by medical and mental health professionals.”

Many facilities will even offer free pregnancy or STI testing, counseling services and some form of prenatal care that is contingent on the patient agreeing to Bible study sessions, according to the report.

More than one-third of the crisis pregnancy centers were found to offer what they call an “abortion pill reversal” that has unknown health effects on a pregnant person or their embryo. According to the study, the clinical test of the pill was halted in 2019 because “three of the 12 women enrolled in the study had to be transported to the hospital for severe vaginal bleeding.”

And all of this can be intentionally misleading for anyone trying to navigate the restrictive maze that can be abortion care services. Crisis pregnancy center websites often mimic language used by actually abortion providers to portray themselves as having the heft of medical professionals, with people in white coats on their websites alongside the medical procedures they claim to offer. 

But only 16% of the centers have a physician on staff and only one-quarter reported having a registered nurse, the report states, and more than half do not provide any information about registered or licensed medical professionals.

So who is handling patient care? 

Well, according to the Southwest Women’s Law Center study, these groups are part of the movement to ban abortion across the world, using template online material along with sophisticated targeted advertising techniques so online searches bring people to their facilities. 

Google did roll out a policy in 2019 requiring CPCs to publicly display that they do not provide abortion care on their search listing, but the groups have found loopholes. 

Most nefariously, the study found that CPCs have created “geofencing,” digital marketing strategies that allow the centers to send ads to people in real abortion care waiting rooms. The ads go to their phones “to try to get them to go to the CPC instead,” according to the Southwest Women’s Law Center.

Awareness about these facilities is paramount as new bans and trigger laws take effect. Source New Mexico has provided the list of crisis pregnancy centers that do not provide abortions and will update it as it grows. 

In the meantime, the Southwest Women’s Law Center wants the state Legislature to develop rules for CPCs in the state and grant greater protections for abortion facilities.

“Do not contact the people on the CPC list if you are looking for an abortion or for information regarding your health care options,” Serrano said. “Talk to an abortion provider.”

Abortion care providers in New Mexico

ONLINE CARE:
Abortion At Home
carafem.org
(855) 729-2272

Abortion On Demand
abortionondemand.org

Whole Women’s Health Virtual Care
wholewomanshealth.com
(877) 310-2193

IN-PERSON CARE:
Full Circle Health Center
Las Cruces, N.M.
fullcirclehealthcenter.com
(575) 222-8594

San Mateo Health Center (Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Inc.)
Albuquerque, N.M.
pprm.org
(505) 265-9511

Santa Fe Health Center (Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Inc.)
Santa Fe, N.M.
pprm.org
(505) 982-3684

Southwestern Women’s Options
Albuquerque, N.M.
curtisboydmd.com
(505) 242-9592
(800) 777-7630

University of New Mexico, Center for Reproductive Health
Albuquerque, N.M.
unmcrh.org
(505) 925-4455

Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New Mexico that do not provide abortion care:

Pregnancy Help Center
Alamogordo, N.M.

SLV Life Center
Alamosa, N.M.

Casa de Mariposa
Albuquerque, N.M.

Women’s Pregnancy Options
Albuquerque, N.M.

Care Net Pregnancy Centers (and Mobile Unit)
Albuquerque, N.M.

Pregnancy Help Center
Artesia, N.M.

New Beginnings Caring Pregnancy Center
Carlsbad, N.M.

Pregnancy Resource Center
Clovis, N.M.

Grace Place for Women
Farmington, N.M.

Birthright Crisis Pregnancy
Farmington, N.M.

Legacy Pregnancy Resources
Hobbs, N.M.

Turning Point
Las Cruces, N.M.

Mesilla Valley Pregnancy Resource Center
Las Cruces, N.M.

Care Net Pregnancy Centers
Las Cruces, N.M.

Hope Pregnancy Center
Los Alamos, N.M.

Care Net Pregnancy Centers
Los Lunas, N.M.

Care Net Pregnancy Center of East Mountain
Moriarty, N.M.

Pregnancy Resource Center
Portales, N.M.

Care Net Pregnancy Centers
Rio Rancho, N.M.

Origins Pregnancy Care Center
Rio Rancho, N.M.

Birthright Pregnancy Centers
Rio Rancho, N.M.

Chaves County Pregnancy Center
Roswell, N.M.

Lincoln County Pregnancy Center
Ruidoso, N.M.

Life-Way Lincoln County Pregnancy Center
Ruidoso, N.M.

Care Net Pregnancy Centers
Santa Fe, N.M.

New Life Pregnancy Center
Taos, N.M.

Open Arms Pregnancy Center
Truth or Consequences, N.M.

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.

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